The Canadian Senate voted to change the lyrics of the country’s national anthem to make it gender-neutral on Wednesday.
Before it officially becomes law, the legislation still requires the formality of royal assent. Once Gov. Gen. Julie Payette signs it into law, the second line of O Canada will change from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
The private member’s bill to change the anthem’s lyrics was first introduced in 2016 by Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who died later that year. The bill had stalled as some Conservative senators fought against its passage.
The French-language version of the anthem is already gender-neutral and has different lyrics than its English counterpart.
“There is no gender distinction in the French version, why has it taken this long to fix it?” said Patrice Dutil, a professor of politics and public administration a Ryerson.
O Canada became the country’s national anthem in 1980 but, according to Canadian Heritage, the song was first performed in 1880 with several different versions over the years.
At one point, the anthem contained the line “thou dost in us command,” which was revised in 1913 to “in all thy sons command.”
Since then, 12 bills have been introduced in the House of Commons to remove the reference to “sons,” but all attempts had failed in the past, until now.